Natural rubber (NR), polyurethane rubber (PUR), and NR/PUR-based nanocomposites were produced from the related latices by adding a pristine synthetic layered silicate (LS; sodium fluorohectorite) in 10 parts per hundred parts rubber (phr). The dispersion of the LS latices in the composite was studied by X-ray diffraction (XRD) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Further information on the rubber/LS interaction was received from Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and dynamic mechanical thermal analysis (DMTA). Tensile and tear tests were used to characterize the performance of the rubber nanocomposites. It was found that LS is more compatible and thus better intercalated by PUR than by NR. Further, LS was preferably located in the PUR phase in the blends, which exhibited excellent mechanical properties despite the incompatibility between NR and PUR. Nano-reinforcement was best reflected in stiffness- and strength-related properties of the rubber composites. © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci 92: 543–551, 2004
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